Actress and director Asia Argento, whose allegations against Harvey Weinstein were one of the initial bombshells in the current wave of the #MeToo movement, gave a blistering speech at the Cannes closing ceremony about the film industry’s role in enabling Weinstein. She was on stage with director and Cannes jury member Ava DuVernay to give out the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actress (Samal Yeslyamova won for her performance in Ayka), but Argento skipped the traditional pablum about the magic of acting for a short, personal account of the ways her industry has treated actresses. “In 1997, I was raped by Harvey Weinstein here at Cannes,” Argento bluntly told the audience. “This festival was his hunting ground.” She went on to warn abusers in the crowd, “You know who you are. But most importantly, we know who you are. And we’re not going to let you get away with it any longer.”
Her speech is an outlier in award ceremony activism: Generally the speaker frames things under the assumption that the people in the room—and the film community in general—agree with their political position, and it’s the rest of the world that’s the problem. Even Michael Moore, in his famously divisive Bowling for Columbine speech—booed by the people attending the Oscars for the now-uncontroversial statement that we were going to war in Iraq “for fictitious reasons”—went to the trouble of getting the rest of the Best Documentary nominees on stage for a speech that used the word “I” twice and the word “we” nine times. (Sacheen Littlefeather’s speech is a notable exception, but Marlon Brando pointedly sent an outsider to deliver it.) Argento is no outsider, but as she forcefully reminded the audience, some of the insiders are the problem, even if Harvey Weinstein is gone.
Here are Argento’s complete comments:
In 1997, I was raped by Harvey Weinstein here at Cannes. I was 21 years old. This festival was his hunting ground. I want to make a prediction. Harvey Weinstein will never be welcomed here ever again. He will live in disgrace, shunned by the film community that once embraced him and covered up for his crimes. And even tonight, sitting among you, there are those who still have to be held accountable for their conduct against women, for behavior that does not belong in this industry, that does not belong in any industry or workplace. You know who you are. But most importantly, we know who you are. And we’re not going to allow you to get away with it any longer.
Update, May 19: Argento tweeted the text of her speech, dedicating it to “all the brave women who came forward denouncing their predators, and for all the brave women who will come forward in the future”: